BEATRICE – The swimming season is at hand….with pools and water parks set to open across Nebraska. The Big Blue Water Park in Beatrice has its opening day this Saturday…..and the pooled is filled and ready to go….for its 23rd year of operation.

"Overall, we usually average, attendance daily...215 to 220. But when it gets hot, 95 to 100 degrees....we can have 500 go through in a day."

Beatrice Public Properties Director Mark Pethoud says the facility at 12th and Scott Streets is in pretty good shape….with the only hitch going into this season, a broken water line that has been repaired.  "Everything started up...motors, all that started. We did have a water leak underground that we had to repair this spring....under the concrete in the bathhouse and the office we had that repaired. Everything's up and running now, so we're just doing some final touches."

The Big Blue Water Park is keeping its season pass and daily rates at the same levels they’ve been for the past several years. Pethoud says the day will come, however, when an upward adjustment becomes necessary.  "It's probably been seven or eight years that we've been at the same rates. But compared with other areas, we're right there. It's hard to really raise that stuff, but we're getting to the point where we're going to have to. Chemicals are going up, wages are going up...the building's getting older."

Pethoud says the city has had a policy of keeping the daily and season pass costs low….because if it’s too high…nobody uses the park. Pethoud said the park sees a lot of daily admissions during the summer…..but season pass sales also do well.

It takes about a week to fill the pool with water….and this year, Pethoud says the facility may have the rare occurrence of good weather, for the Memorial Day weekend opening.  "It's probably going to be the first time in a long time we've had a decent (Memorial Day) weekend. Most of the time it's been cloudy and rainy and cold....hopefully this year we get a good turnout."

As for the future, Pethoud says discussions and decisions are on the way about the next steps. "The other one was built in 1969 at Riverside Park...and we moved over here in 2000. You have a lifespan of about 30 to 32 years, so we're at year 23. So, at some point in time we either need to look at a remodel or complete gut.....or build a new one."

The Big Blue Water Park’s daily hours will be 12:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Some special events will be held during the summer.  The season extends through about mid-August, when school resumes and the facility loses much of its American Red-Cross trained lifeguard help.